Thursday, October 23, 2008
By BARRY BURLESON
The defenses dominated in a public school vs. private school football matchup in Marshall County last Thursday.
And it was Byhalia Middle School’s defense that made the last stand. The Indians held Marshall Academy on a fourth and five with about a minute remaining and won the game 8-6. Coach C.B. McClatchy’s squad of seventh and eighth graders remained unbeaten on the season at 10-0 with one game remaining.
The squads swapped fumbles early on the Byhalia field, which had been soaked with rainfall throughout the day. Michael Tadlock recovered a loose ball for the Indians and Jordon Harris did the same for the Patriots.
The momentum then swung back in the Indians’ direction when they stopped MA on a fourth and 10 try.
The Byhalia offense took over and on the first play of the second quarter running back Devonte Norman found a hole and sprinted 63 yards for a touchdown. Quarterback Markeise Rodgers kept the ball for the two-point conversion, which would turn out to be the decisive points.
The Patriots bounced back for their lone points of the night. Brantley Harris picked up some big yards on a reverse and MA was aided by a couple of offsides penalties on the Indians. Then quarterback Zack Pritchett lofted a long pass toward the end zone from 35 yards out. It was caught by a leaping Aaron McAlexander for the score. Pritchett was stopped short of the goal-line on the try-for-two with 3:10 to go in the second quarter.
Byhalia tried to answer before the half-time break but continued to plague by penalties.
Punts were the story of the second half, as both defenses really flexed their muscles.
The game wrapped up in the last three minutes with a big defensive stand by the Patriots, halting the Indians on a fourth and 13 from the MA 31, and the final defensive stand by Byhalia at the 1:04 mark. The Indians then took a knee twice to run out the clock.
“We didn’t play as well as we have been, and you can attribute some of that to them (the Patriots),” McClatchy said. “They have a good bunch of boys, well-coached, and we were just proud to come out with the win. It was a good game – good defense.
“We had a ton of flags, and we have not been doing that.”
Keith Owens, Marshall’s head coach, said, “We had some opportunities to win. Our kids played extremely hard.”
McClatchy’s squad, about 40 players strong, had beaten Ripley 30-20 the week before.
“I’m really proud of this group,” McClatchy said. “They’ve come a long way.”
The BMS Indians were slated to finish their season on Tuesday of this week at home versus North Panola.
McClatchy said he hopes the Byhalia-Marshall series continues. Last year the Patriots won 24-20.
“I hope we keep playing,” McClatchy said. “It’s good for the kids.
“And it gives Marshall a chance to look at their next year’s junior high team.”
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